A Moral Duty

The Vatican settles a debt

When it collapsed in 1982, Milan's Banco Ambrosiano left behind a $1.3 billion missing-funds scandal and a stigma on the Roman Catholic Church.

Last week, after nearly two years of intense negotiation, Ambrosiano's creditors quietly circulated a 161-page agreement that called for the Vatican to pay them $244 million in recognition of its "moral involvement" in the bank failure. According to one church official, the settlement will mean that the Vatican's accountability in the matter "will finally be completely resolved."

The Holy See was linked to Banco Ambrosiano through the Institute for Religious Works, the agency that conducts financial...

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